PLAYING THE FIELD Action from the National League game betweeen Mayo and Tyrone at MacHale Park, Castlebar last October. Mayo will not be playing their 2022 National League games at the venue. Pic: Sportsfile
MAYO GAA chairman Liam Moffatt says that the securing of a Sports Capital Grant, allied to funds that will be raised from the Laochra Mhaigh Eo project, means that senior County Board officials ‘feel that we will be well able to meet that budgetary requirement through the three phases’ of the MacHale Park pitch re-surfacing project.
Moffatt told last week’s online County Board meeting that Mayo GAA chiefs had ‘outlined an indicative budget of €250,000 to see the project through to its completion’.
He also revealed that a Sports Capital Grant was ‘already in place and approved’ for the proposed work and he re-iterated that the project ‘imposes no cost on clubs in Mayo’.
Last week’s meeting heard that Killeen Sports Grounds, a Claremorris-based company, had been chosen as the successful contractor to carry out the pitch works.
Mayo GAA Assistant Treasurer, Michael Diskin, who oversaw the tender process, has been appointed as ‘Project Manager’ for the works in a voluntary capacity.
The project is set to begin in August of this year and, ‘weather permitting’ is expected to take approximately six weeks to complete.
“Recognising the uncertainty that exists regarding the onset of both the county and club football seasons, it is currently difficult to be definitive about a start date for the work,” Liam Moffatt told club delegates.
“However, Mayo teams will play their home league and championship matches in MacHale Park this year.
“The Board recognises that this development work must be carried out in dry weather and ideally are anxious to have it completed by August 1. However, we are also conscious of our teams’ preparation and the uncertainty regarding playing schedules.
“To allow the pitch time to bed in, the pitch would not be available for the NFL in 2022 and would aim to re-open on May 1, 2022,” he added.
“It’s envisaged that the final stages of the 2021 Mayo club championships will be transferred to other grounds throughout the county.”
Two questions were asked by the delegates in attendance: Brian O’Malley from The Neale enquired if the ‘1,000 tonnes of sand’ being used for the re-surfacing work would be ‘Wexford Sand or sourced locally?’
“The sand that will be spread on the pitch has to meet a certain specification, and what we will be insisting on is that the sand meets that specification,” replied Michael Diskin.
“We will be taking samples of it to make sure it does. It doesn’t matter where the sand comes from as long as it meets the specific specifications required for sports grounds.”
Breaffy GAA delegate, Jim O’Shea, then asked if the ‘indicative budget’ of €250,000 ‘had allowed for over-runs in time or in monetary values?’
“Well, we don’t envisage over-runs, that’s the first thing,” replied Liam Moffatt.
“In terms of contingency plans, yes, there would be. . . But in terms of the project, with Laochra Maigh Eo, and the Sports Capital Funding, we feel that we will be well able to meet that budgetary requirement through the three phases outlined in the presentation.”
These three phases are: 1) pitch resurfacing; 2) irrigation systems; 3) maintenance and capital investment.
The proposal by ‘Coiste Bainistí’ to rubber-stamp the recommendation of Killeen Sports Grounds as the contractor for the project was seconded by John Farragher of Garrymore GAA club who praised the company’s track record.
LAOCHRA MHAIGH EO
MEANWHILE, the ‘Heroe’s Wall’ project at MacHale Park — which will help to fund the pitch resurfacing project — had raised €33,000 by last Wednesday lunchtime after the sale of ‘just over 130 tiles’.
“We’re in a very strong position in phase one, but as we know there’s a long way to go on this project,” explained Liam Moffatt.
Mayo GAA’s delegate to Connacht Council, Paul Cunnane, who is heading up the ‘Laochra Mhaigh Eo’ committee, said he was pleased with the early response, given that the official launch had only taken place two weeks earlier.
“We would be confident that over the next number of weeks and months that, once people really buy into it and see that the funds are going into the pitch, and see the value in having the tile there, in situ forever more, it’s a nice legacy for people to have,” he said.
He told the meeting that a new website had been launched (mayogaa.com/thewall) and that a number of former Mayo players had contacted County Board officers ‘wanting to get involved’ in helping to promote the initiative in the weeks ahead.
“We’re conscious that clubs have their own fundraisers coming up so there’s certainly going to be no pressure from us in terms of selling tiles or asking clubs to buy tiles,” said Cunnane, adding that because the project had been approved for ‘tax relief status’, some people who purchase tiles could claim for tax relief. “That should also help sales” he added.